I’ve written before about a phenomenon I call “slow-motion childhood”: When your kid struggles for what typically developing kids acquire naturally, you notice micro-steps. Maybe you even get more moments for celebration.
I picked Martin up at school this afternoon. I do that on Tuesdays, so that he, assisted by a special-education teacher, can participate in “Kids’ Klub” at our church. (Yes. Spelling “club” with a K just about kills me. But that’s what they call it.) From the backseat, Martin started talking about the satellite-radio music. He fixates on music: “Mommy, do you hear a bass guitar?” “Mommy, are they playing live?” “Mommy, is there clapping in this song?” Lately he’s taken to memorizing which song I like best from every singer or band we hear. “Mommy, ‘Bennie and the Jets’ is a good song, but it’s not your favorite song by Elton John. You’re favorite song by Elton John is ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’.”
In sum, Martin talks about the music. From his booster seat, he can lean to the side and read the name of the artist and song, every artist and song, on my SUV’s radio screen. There are times when Martin’s reading skills are not as pleasing as you might think.
Martin’s spoken language is pretty solid these days; he can combine words and concepts, and figure out ways to express layered thoughts. “Mommy, were those two songs both by the BeeGees?” “Mommy, George Harrison used to be in the group The Beatles. This is a solo song from after when he was with the group The Beatles.” Still, and even apart from the perseveration, there can be an awkwardness, and a rote pattern, to Martin’s speech. He recycles phrases. New expressions arise rarely.
This afternoon, our first conversation, while on a familiar topic, had a speech breakthrough.
“Mommy, this song is by the group called Heart. I don’t like the song.”
“I don’t like this song very much, either. I’m not a big Heart fan.”
“You don’t like this song?”
“So change it.”
There it was. Did you catch it?
Martin used the word “so” as a coordinating conjunction, in a manner in which the precedent construction—my not liking the song—was unstated and implied. What Martin was saying was, “Because you don’t like this song, you should change the station.” What rolled off his tongue was the casual, idiomatic, and perfect, “So change it.”
So … do you even need to ask?
I changed the station.